Poland has been part of the European Union since 2004, however, when it comes to online gaming regulations the country is not as permitting as several other EU members.
In 2009 a new gambling law was born that put very strict regulations in place and this legislation was modified in 2016 tightening the hook around online casinos’ neck even further.
Poland’s online gambling regulation at a glance
The 2016 gambling law that came into effect on 1 April 2017 is considered to be one of the most restrictive in Europe. In this article, we are discussing the key points of the gambling law with iGaming expert, Jacek Michałski. You can read more about Jacek here.
- Only the state-owned company – Totalizator Sportowy – can offer online casino games
- Land-based casinos, bingo salons and bookmakers are allowed to operate in the country subject to a licence
- Introducing a blocking mechanism for unlicenced online gambling operators
- Participating in online gambling provided by foreign-owned sites is a crime
- Sports betting is only allowed online under the Totalizator system
- Poker can only be played in tournaments organized by a casino or outside of casinos if the authorities were notified in advance
- Slot machines can only be in casinos or in slot machine parlours that are exclusively operated by a state-owned company
The government’s response to unlicenced casinos
Here the term “unlicensed” means that the casino is not licenced by the Polish government. There are plenty of online casinos that are licenced with a regulatory body in the country where the online casino is based. For example, Slottyway casino is fully-licenced in Curacao and it welcomes players from Poland.
One of the most significant changes that the 2016 gambling law introduced is the blocking mechanism that the Polish government imposes on unlicensed online gaming websites. The Ministry of Finance keeps a register of websites that offer unlicensed gambling services to players based in Poland and they keep adding new casinos on this list. This register or blacklist is then passed on to internet service providers who have to block users’ access to these sites within 48 hours.
Similar to this practice, payment service providers are also obliged to block payments initiated to these same websites. Non-compliance with this can impose a fine of PLN250,000 on both the payment service provider’s and the internet service provider’s side.
What the future might hold
The reason behind the strict online gambling laws is that this way the government can monopolize much of the gambling business. However, by allowing foreign operators to operate legally in Poland, the government could charge licencing fees and could collect taxes. Many online gaming sites have been put on the blacklist, but there are plenty that can still be accessed from a Polish IP address. Pressure from people who enjoy gambling, and complaints from offshore operators whose websites have been blocked can eventually lead to positive changes in the law of online casino Poland.
Foreign licenced casinos
There is no global regulatory body that is responsible for online gaming worldwide, so casino websites base themselves in countries where the laws are not that strict and it is easy to operate from.
So, if a casino is not licenced to operate in Poland, it might still hold a licence from a foreign regulating body. The most common countries where casinos are licenced are Gibraltar, Malta, Curacao, the UK, Panama, Costa Rica and Cyprus. Regulators such as the UK Gambling Commission have public registers where casino licences can be verified.
A set of licencing requirements are in place and the licenced entities are audited regularly to ensure continuous compliance. The requirements somewhat depend on the jurisdiction where the regulators are based but the basics are the following:
- Suitability of the executives and the owners
- Compliance with accounting principles
- The fairness of the games
- Preventing underage gambling
- Preventing anti-money laundering
- Complaint handling
- Responsible gaming procedures
Online gambling in Poland is monopolized by the government. However, there is a great number of foreign operated online casinos that welcome Polish players. Even though they are not licenced to operate in Poland, they adhere to laws and regulations set out by their regulatory body.